£135,000 for negligent delay in the surgical management of a left tibial fracture

Mrs X attended the Minor Injuries Unit at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 17th January 2018 with left knee pain, having been knocked over by a dog that day. She was unable to walk and her left knee was swollen. An x-ray was requested, which was incorrectly interpreted as not demonstrating a fracture, and Mrs X was discharged. She was neither invited to attend the Emergency Department or a fracture clinic, nor was she offered a fracture clinic appointment.

It was Mrs X’s case that had the imaging been correctly reported and acted upon, she would have been offered open reduction and internal fixation surgery, which would have taken place by 22nd January 2018. In addition, it was Mrs X’s case that when she reattended on 1st February 2018, the Defendant was negligent in failing to arrange a CT scan of her left knee on an urgent basis, failing to admit her on an urgent basis for surgery and generally failing to manage the left tibial fracture in a timely fashion.

It was Mrs X’s case that the 28-day delay in conducting surgery resulted in a significantly worse outcome. This is because the significant delay in performing the surgery caused increased fibrosis and scarring, resulting in suboptimal conditions and increased difficulty in performing surgery, as well as a poorer outcome following the surgery.

Mrs X developed significant stiffness and loss of movement in her knee. As a result, she required assistance with social and domestic activities. She also required extensive physiotherapy and manipulation of the knee under anesthetic.

In a Letter of Response dated 13th May 2018, the Defendant admitted that there was a breach of duty in the assessment and reporting of the initial x-rays of 17th January 2018. According to their expert, “the fracture of the lateral tibial plateau was clearly visible. This diagnosis should have been made, especially in the presence of the described affusions”. 

The Defendant denied that the Claimant’s outcome could have been better with earlier surgery. Following negotiations with the Defendant at a Joint Settlement Meeting, settlement was eventually achieved in the sum of £135,000.

Partner and Head of Department Clare Milne said:

It was a pleasure to act for Mrs X and secure her a settlement in the sum of £135,000. The client was also offered an apology by the Defendant.”